This section is from the "The Subvention In The State Finances Of Pennsylvania" book, by Frederic B. Garver.
But the normal schools also received aid indirectly in another way. Students who were willing to agree to teach a certain length of time in the common schools received from the state treasury a substantial appropriation for paying their tuition at any of the recognized normal schools. No doubt many of these students would not have attended the schools had not the state assisted them. And to the extent, therefore, that they were induced to attend, the state provided pay pupils. Table III, Appendix, gives the combined payments for direct aid to the schools, and for students' tuition. But even this total appears small when compared with the payments to charitable institutions.
By 1878 the state had appropriated about $520,000 directly in the aid of the schools, and $208,527 for the assistance of students.130 Of the former amount $320,000 had been secured by mortgages recorded in the name of the state. *131 The amount appropriated by the state represented a large part of the investment of the schools in sites and permanent buildings. *132
The distribution of the subvention among the various schools was usually provided for in the appropriation bill. Sometimes the amount going to each school was named in the bill, and not infrequently some institutions received more than others; sometimes the bill appropriated a lump-sum and divided it equally among the schools; and sometimes an ex-officio committee of state officers was required to distribute the subvention in any manner it deemed best. *133
130 Supt. of Public Instruction, Report (1878), p. xi.
132Idem, (1877), p. xi. The two reports cited in this and the preceding footnote make conflicting statements as to the amount appropriated by the state. The difference is over $25,000.
133 Idem, (1877), p. xi; (1882), pp. xv-xvi.
In 1876 the last method was followed by the legislature in making the appropriation. The committee, which was composed of the Governor, the Attorney General, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction, apportioned the money in accordance with the principle that the institutions most heavily in debt should receive the largest amount of aid. In defense of this plan it was urged that the schools thus favored had the finest equipment and were, as schools, in a flourishing condition; and that immediate aid was necessary in some cases to keep them from falling into the sheriff's hands and being sold to satisfy obligations to private creditors. *134 The committee required each school to execute a mortgage in favor of the state for the amount it received. Six institutions were also required to use the money received to pay off their indebtedness, to raise by private subscription an amount equal to one-fifth of the state aid and to use it for the same purpose. Four other schools were required to agree to use the amounts received to increase their buildings and equipment. *135
This method of distribution did not, however, give satisfaction. In 1882 Higbee, who had recently become state superintendent, pointed out that to aid most liberally the most heavily indebted schools was to put a premium on lax management and extravagance. *136 Without doubt, Higbee's criticism was sound as applied to the particular case. But the method of distribution that the legislature usually followed from then until 1913 was open to the same objection as well as to others quite as serious. During the remainder of the period the total appropriation for direct assistance to normal schools was divided equally among the institutions receiving it. Such a basis of distribution ignored alike differences in the needs of the various schools, efficiency or lack of efficiency in their management, and differences in the services they rendered the state.
It persisted, however, because equal distribution avoided friction and charges of favoritism in voting the appropriation. It was also the result of an agreement among the trustees of the schools. In order to pass the appropriation bill over the opposition of those who objected to using public funds to aid private concerns, it was necessary to secure harmony among the representatives of the schools. This was accomplished by making an impartial and equal division of the appropriation. *137
134 Supt. of Public Instruction, Report (1877), p. ix.
135 Idem, pp. ix-x.
136 Idem, Report (1882), pp. xv-xvi.
137 Statement of Mr. D. J. Walker, principal of the Bloomsburg Normal School, in a paper read at the Annual Meeting of the Board of Principals of the State Normal Schools, Proceedings (1907), pp. 9-11.
The state attempted to control the schools, partly by appointing members of their boards of trustees, and partly by giving the state superintendent certain powers of supervision over them. By a law of 1875 it was provided that six of the eighteen trustees of each institution should be selected by the state superintendent from a list of twelve nominated by the stockholders. But if the superintendent found fewer than six of the nominees acceptable, he was authorized, with the consent of the governor, to appoint men whose names were not on the list. Of course, the mere right to appoint one-third of the board did not give the state complete control in any matter that came to a vote with the entire board present. But this law also required a majority of three-fourths of those present to pass any motions upon which the ayes and noes were called for. *138
138 Act 12 April, 1875, P.L. 43.